Despite a lack of evidence Duke University is all-in on stem cells for autism, thanks to a billionaire benefactor and a Panama stem cell clinic. This is the dark(er) side of quackademic medicine.
Stem cell therapies show great promise, but as yet the vast majority of that promise has not been validated in rigorous clinical trials. Unfortunately, for-profit stem cell clinics are running clinical trials that require patients to pay to be part of them (“pay-to-play”). These trials are not rigorous. Even more unfortunately, it appears that some universities are also running “pay-to-play” clinical trials that bear an uncomfortable resemblance to those run by for-profit clinics.